What Function Would You Like To Add to Your Camera?

What Function Would You Like To Add to Your Camera?

Cameras of today are packed with functions and possibilities. Most of us are only using a small part of what’s possible. Still, we often want just one other function that is not available. What function would you like to add to your camera?

I remember my first cameras. They were relatively simple tools with nothing more than the possibility to capture an image. It had an exposure metering system, and the ability to set a shutter speed and aperture. Besides a self-timer, there was not much else possible. These cameras were used for one thing, and one thing only: We used them to photograph our subject.

Much has happened since. The addition of automated functions started when we still used analog film rolls. But the possibilities a camera offered increased significantly when we got into the digital age. We got options that were once believed to be impossible.

My old cameras. There was no sophisticated computer system necessary for taking pictures. Although the light metering system can be considered a first step towards the automation.

For many photographers, it is almost unimaginable to shoot without autofocus, different sophisticated light measurement systems, continuous shooting, or the limit of 36 photos per film roll. Not to mention eye autofocus for humans and animals, and flawless tracking of subjects through the frame.

Modern cameras have even more sophisticated possibilities. time lapse functions, interval shooting, focus stacking, real-time light collecting, exposure simulation in the viewfinder, filming, and so much more. We can develop the photos in the camera itself and communicate with smartphones or other devices. We’re not photographing with a camera, but with a computer.

Modern cameras are basically computers that can take pictures. As a photographer we only need to worry about the moment and composition.

Never Enough

The more functions and possibilities we get, the less satisfied we seem to become. It almost seems to be only about the technology and features, instead of what it should be about: taking photos. Although many of the features that are present in cameras can help you get the shot you want, it’s not always about the technology involved.

Although many options are available, we still need more. Or so it seems. But in reality it should be about taking pictures, or is it?

Still, no matter what functions a camera has, there is always a function that isn’t there. Something you would like to have. Not because it’s possible, but because it can help you with your photography — or filming, for that matter. After all, modern cameras can also be used as film cameras.

Firmware Updates

Just like the computer we use at home or in our offices, a camera can be updated also. In most situations, it’s about removing bugs in the computer software, or changing simple things in order to improve user experience.

Fortunately, it doesn’t have to stop there. It is quite easy to add functions and possibilities to our camera. After all, the computer can be programmed any way we see fit. Perhaps the only limit is the amount of memory of the system itself, I think. But then again, I don’t know that much about these computer systems. Still, there is no reason to believe there can be added more functionality. Just a simple firmware update could be enough.

A firmware update for my Canon EOS R5. Probably some minor tweaks and improvements. But it could be so much more. Sometimes it is.

What Functions Would I Like to Have?

I’ve been using a lot of different cameras from all kinds of brands. It means I have seen a lot of the things that are possible and things that have become possible over time. When I look at my Canon EOS R5, I would like to have a lot of extra options, even though I wouldn’t probably need it a lot. I have made a list.

  • XF-AVC codec for video like on the Canon EOS R5 C
  • No video recording time limit like on the Canon EOS R7
  • Wave graph for video like on the Canon EOS R5 C
  • Pre-shooting option like on the Canon EOS R7 and EOS R10
  • Update in customization for AF system like on the Canon EOS R3 and EOS R7
  • Possibility to set self-timer delay and more than one image like on some Sony cameras
  • No 30 seconds limit with exposure program like on some Nikon Z series
  • 4:5 crop added to aspect ratios
  • OVF simulation like the Canon EOS R3
  • Real-time light gathering (live bulb) like on some Olympus cameras

The wave functions I had when testing the Canon EOS R5 C. I liked it a lot and wished I had something similar on my own camera.

It’s a long list of wishes, and perhaps there is not enough computer memory to hold all the necessary programming. But in principle, a lot should be possible with a large firmware update. Canon has done something similar already with the addition of vehicle recognition for autofocus, and the ability to disable the shutdown when overheating while filming.

If I could choose only one function to be added to my Canon EOS R5 camera, it would be live bulb, the real-time light gathering function that the Olympus owners probably know very well. 

Live bulb, a real time light gathering technique that is limited to Olympus cameras. It's the one function I would add to my own camera, if I had the choice.

Wishes Don’t Come True

As you may know, most wishes don’t come true. Although it depends on the manufacturer, most won’t add significant functions to their camera any time soon. After all, they will prefer you to buy their new camera instead, packed with all those improved and new functions.

Although the AF system on the Sony A7 IV had improved over its predecessor, it wasn't perfect. A firmware update improved this.

This doesn’t mean they won’t add new functions of improvements at all. I mentioned the recent Canon firmware update for the EOS R5. Sony recently made an improved autofocus for their Sony a7 IV camera also, together with a few other things. I believe Nikon has done similar things with their Z 6 and Z 7 mirrorless cameras, and Fujifilm added new features in the past.

Although the Nikon Z series cameras are great, they were improved with firmware updates and got new functions along the way.

But most of the time, the firmware updates are just minor improvements and to get rid of known bugs in the camera software. Which is a good thing of course, but a bit limited. It would be nice if new functions would be added every now and then.

What Function Would You Like to See?

No matter what camera you are using, you probably would like a function that is currently not present. What function would that be?

I’m sure your camera is also packed with functions and possibilities, except for one that you would love to have. Perhaps it’s not a very important one, but just nice to have. If you could wish for only one function to be added by a firmware update, what would it be?

Please share your wish in the comment below. I can’t grant you any wishes, and I doubt a manufacturer would read these comments and thinks: let’s add this one function. But It would be nice to see what is missing on a certain camera. I’m looking forward to your response.

Log in or register to post comments
108 Comments
Kirk Darling's picture

For the portraits I shoot, my EOS R bodies are sufficient, but I do dearly wish they had the ability to record user configurations to a card (as the other R models do) so that I could save them and copy them from body to body.

BTW, I still have those two Pracktica cameras myself.

Paul Parkinson's picture

For those of us who shoot a fair bit in poor lighting conditions, can we PLEASE have buttons with lights in them?

winzehnt gates's picture

And please make it RED lights so they don't ruin the night vision.

Mike Shwarts's picture

I don't think all need to be red as the lights are small and they could be dim. Just bright enough to locate them. I'd prefer different color lights for each button, so I know what I'm pushing.

winzehnt gates's picture

When it's dark we accumulate rhodopsin in the retina of our eyes which helps tremendously with our nightvision.
Light with a shorter wave length than red light destroys the rhodopsin and with it the nightvision. (Light with shorter wavelength has more energy.)
That's why I want the lights to be red. If you had e.g white light you would find the buttons, but you'd lose your nightvision.

Willy Williams's picture

I'd concur with your comment, but add that buttons should be subtly lighted; white in daylight, but red in dark situations so night vision isn't impaired. This could be an easy extension of Panasonic's night mode control paradigm.

winzehnt gates's picture

Sounds perfect to me.

Nando Harmsen's picture

Ah, yes. I forgot about those. I'd love to have those also.

miha zero's picture

I want to add 3rd party lenses to my camera. You know ... 3rd party RF lenses. Kinda most important thing ATM.

Robert Nurse's picture

I'd really like an RF 400mm or 500mm f/4. Still waiting!

Michael Hrankowski's picture

While there are several things I’d like to see added, there is ONE thing I’d like to see taken away: VIDEO! I’m sure I’m not the only photographer who only shoots still images. I don’t shoot videos. I have no interest in videos and I don’t ever intend to shoot videos. Video capability in a camera otherwise designed for stills is kind of like those paddle shifters on some cars so you can pretend you’re driving a manual transmission. I’ve got them but have I ever used them? NO! How many photographers actually vlog? So I wait for a modern digital camera designed for serious still photographers. I have a hunch I’ll be waiting a long time!

Gonzague GB's picture

I have the same, reverse, need. I do not shoot photos and really never cared for it. What I would love to see is a real usage of the photo/video switch. Once in photo mode you see NOTHING about video and the opposite true when you switch the video mode. Not hard to make I believe and it makes it a nice compromise for everyone.

Nando Harmsen's picture

Why don't you buy a dedicated film camera then? I'd love to hear the reason why you would choose a stills camera with video function

Patrick Hall's picture

What part of the video function bothers you? Most of the cameras have maybe 2 buttons that announce it can shoot video but other than that everything is exactly the same. You want the record button gone and maybe the headphone/mic jack gone?

Tom Reichner's picture

With my Canon DSLRs, several times each year, I inadvertently touch some button somewhere, and it switches it from stills too video. Drives me nuts because I have no idea what button(s) to press to get it back to still photos. I have missed some extremely great wildlife opportunities because the camera was accidentally switched to video and I couldn't get it back.

I feel stupid when I have to find another photographer, introduce myself, and ask if they could please get my camera out of video mode and back to stills. Embarrassing.

Patrick Hall's picture

What camera do you have have? I do agree that you might not need many video buttons and instead just let the live view button work and a record option.

Tom Reichner's picture

I'm using the Canon 5D Mark 4 these days. If it simply didn't have any video at all, then it could never get switched to video by accident, and I wouldn't miss so many good opportunities for stills.

S M's picture

You should break the black knob that says "start/stop" so you don't mistakingly switch video on. That's what used to do it for me with that camera.

Personally, getting a DSLR is what got me in to video and has helped turn both photo and video from a hobby in to a career for me. I'm glad Modern cameras offer both at pretty high professional levels.

That said, I want a phone that only makes calls and provides me maps. So I get it about just wanting a stills camera to an extent..

Tom Reichner's picture

Good suggestion!

I actually had no idea that there is a black knob that turns video on. If I knew what knob or switch turned video on, then I would be able to turn it off. I don't want to know anything about what knobs or switches turn video on - I just want to take still photos without having to ever learn or know anything about video at all.

Alex Herbert's picture

One issue is that video isn't just an afterthought anymore. It costs a lot in R&D investment, software and parts, which you then pay for when you buy the camera. If they sold a photo camera with no video capability, it could theoretically be cheaper.

Joe Hogan's picture

exactly my thoughts. I have the feeling that there are short cuts taken on the photographic side to make sure video is as efficient and state-of-the-art as possible.

Tom Reichner's picture

Yes, exactly! Every million dollars spent on video R&D is a million dollars that could have been spent on still image R&D, but wasn't. When the main selling points of many new cameras are their video capabilities, one has to think that the still image capabilities aren't the main priority anymore ... and that makes me feel like a few small, incremental improvements are being left on the table that could otherwise be realized in each new release.

Colin Robertson's picture

You say that, but then you'll one day have a need to shoot some video on something better than your smartphone and get all pissy that your big fancy camera cannot do the task your smartphone can do.

Willy Williams's picture

[rant]

1. On the Lumix DC-G9, I'd like to see Flash Synchro to the list of functions that can be assigned in [Setting in REC mode]. Flash Mode is already there, so why not add Flash Synchro?
2. Also on the DC-G9, I'd like the ability to assign Bluetooth and GPS on-off functions that can be assigned in [Setting in REC mode].
3. I'd like to be able to add photographer and image copyright fields to the DC-G9 firmware that can be used to embed copyright data into any image's metadata as it is recorded. The data entered here does not appear in the photo; only in the metadata. Canon, Nikon and others have offered this for years.
4. When stacking focus with the DC-G9, I'd prefer that the firmware have the capability for stacked images to be saved as both JPG and RAW files (selectable like non-stacked images), as opposed to the current paradigm of saving stacked images as JPG files only.
5. I'd like to see all manufacturers create cameras with native Arca-Swiss-compatible baseplates.
6. I'd like to see the menu structures be organized far more logically so that one can easily find a specific function as needed, without having to dig into a huge owner's manual.
7. And as long as I'm on a rant here, I'd like to see other camera manufacturers emulate Panasonic and add a night mode that allows the user to turn off the blue and green guns to the viewfinder and monitor so that night vision can be better preserved for those that are into low-light photography.

OK. Let's it out of the way. I'm opinionated. Get over it and let's see some necessary and appropriate improvements to both firmware and hardware, and a bit more responsiveness to user requests/needs from the manufacturing community.

[/rant]

Willy Williams's picture

And another thing while I think of it, manufacturers should stop this insanity of mixing storage media card types on any given body. If it's primarily or solely used for stills, use two UHS-II SDXC cards up to 256GB, or if it's primarily used for video work, make it all CFexp B cards. Quit this splitting media types altogether! It's expensive enough to buy one type of media, never mind having to buy two different types of media. Panasonic did it right with the G9 and two UHS-II SDXC slots, but blew it when they brought out the S5 with one UHS-I and one UHS-II slots.

And yet another item - manufacturers should design firmware such that the body could download images directly from internal storage media to a USB SSD back-up drive without having to use a laptop as a go-between.

Nando Harmsen's picture

Point 5 would be nice indeed. Let's extend that one: integrated L-bracket with QD connection

Felix Valeri's picture

mirrorless cameras should have functions our phones have but way better.
basically the features the Z9 has for photos lol, but in a $2k body

There should be a studio mode in our cameras that allow us to shoot similar to our phones. camera should detect faces and nail each shot.

Tom Reichner's picture

Totally agree.

My cheap $150 android has gazillions of features and capabilities that $6,000 cameras do not have at all. So did my previous android, a $49 model. That is ridiculous.

Why won't they just put a smartphone operating system into a camera?

I should be able to use my phone's LCD screen to do all of the things that I use my cheap smartphone for - surf the internet, stream Netflix, download apps, check the weather forecast, get on Google Maps GPS, etc., etc., etc.

j.d. hunter's picture

I'd like to see an viewfinder cover which can't be lost so quick like I do.Maybe to be put on the camera somewhere.

Joseph McKenzie's picture

The camera needs to have some basic AI capabilities, based on lighting, lense, subject, or just select the subject or topic and it presets the camera for the best optimal shot… no goofing around with settings…

Patrick Hall's picture

I've wanted to make a video about this for a while. Here goes:

1) LOWER ISO, let's get rid of the need for ND filters and let our cameras shoot at 10, 5, or 1 ISO for long exposures.

2) Faster sync speed - I can't wait for the day a true global shutter comes where we can sync at 1/2000th of a second without having to fool our cameras into using HHS or High Speed Sync

3) Endless video record time - not sure if this is still an issue but many cameras still can only record 29 mins before shutting off. For those who do interviews or documentaries, it's nice to be able to record for as long as the battery lasts.

4) Get rid of the shutter - this is part #2 above but the mirror never bothered be with DSLRs. I always felt like we need to get rid of the shutter first and foremost.

5) Computational edits - the iPhone and other cell phones produce images that are pretty darn good these days. Wouldn't it make sense for our much more powerful cameras to be able to produce more polished jpegs along with the raw files?

6) Better Wifi connectivity - piggy backing on #5, why is it that every camera totally SUCKS at connecting to your phone and allowing you to offload professionally shot files to your phone to post online? Also we should be able to monitor our live view, film video, control intervalometers, etc all from our phones EASILY and RELIABLY!

and finally

7) 5G Connectivity - with world wide internet access not being far away (thanks Starlink), it's about time our cameras had sim cards or esims and can connect directly to the internet. Maybe have a simple app that can upload files to your instagram, email, or other social media and then the app can take it from there. I think Canon announced a camera that would upload to the cloud a few years ago but I don't know what happened with that.

Jason Frels's picture

#7 sounds like a box full of trouble to me. The wireless radio would be a power hog. Anything connected is a security vulnerability and you'd be constantly on the patch update schedule. I would rather a good and reliable bluetooth link to the phone and a competent app that could do some of these things. I already carry around an internet connected device with a CPU, data subscription, GPS, and periodic security updates. It is currently a pain to connect the phone and manually do all of these things (Nikon Z7ii).

Sam Sims's picture

I totally agree. No camera should ever connect to the internet as it would just create too many problems, not least cameras being the wrong from factor compared to a smartphone. Besides why do people feel the desperate need to immediately upload their mirrorless images to social media? Lots of us shoot RAW and upload (if we even are going to upload) after we've edited them. Better connectivity to a smartphone or tablet as you say is the way forwards.

winzehnt gates's picture

#3 is because of import tariffs (at leads in the EU). If a device can record 30 minutes or longer it's a video recorder which has an additional 7% tariff.
The good thing is that in the last trade deal between EU and Japan it was agreed to phase this out. I don't exactly remeber if it has already phased out or if this will happen in 2023 or 2024.

Joe Hogan's picture

1 and 2 definitely.

Tamas Nemeth's picture

Lower ISO directly is not really possible as the full well capacity determines the minimum ISO.Exposing for longer shutter time would saturate the photosites. Alternatively one can use frame averaging functionality where sensor is read out for shorter exposure time according to a normal ISO value multiple times, and gathered together into a single data. The problem with that is the time it takes to readout a frame. Even for global shutter sensor it takes time to transfer the digital signal to some memory buffer, but rolling shutter sensor requires even more time to transfer the electrons from the photosite row by row. Hence short individual shutter speed cannot produce gapless result. ( https://500px.com/photo/1041625528 is a good illustration of that). Longer exposure time and random changes in the scene will minimalize the issue.
This functionality exists in the some limited way in some Olympus cameras (called Live ND) but it is a full(er) experience in the Phase One IQ4 150MP backs. It would be nice to speed up the read out of each frames, so less than 1/4 s exposures could be collected as continuous gathering.
What I do with the R5 to simulate this is to capture an 8K raw video, and export each frame as TIFF using Davinci Resolve, then blend them together. It is lot more time and resource consuming, so I don't do it very often.

Juan Isaias Perez's picture

I want my R5 to focus stack like the R7. And like it was mentioned in the article to have pre-buffer.

Steven Twardzik's picture

The r5 can focus stack. Should say, “focus bracketing” in the first menu page on tab 5.

Juan Isaias Perez's picture

The R7 has a further evolved focus stack feature than the R5 that calculates how many fotos are needed. This is from the R7 manual:
Specify how much to shift the focus. This amount is automatically adjusted to suit the aperture value at the time of shooting.
Larger aperture values increase the focus shift and make focus bracketing cover a wider range under the same focus increment and number of shots.

Steven Twardzik's picture

Gotcha. Seems a bit more robust for sure. Hopefully that could be placed in the r5 with just a firmware update.

Tom Reichner's picture

I would love to have a big square sensor that is large enough to capture the entire image circle that is cast by my lenses. Then the exposed image would be circular, and I would never have to worry about getting horizons perfectly straight, because I could just rotate the image in post without losing a single exposed pixel.

This would also eliminate any need to worry about aspect ratio until we are processing the image, at which point we could crop it to whatever aspect ratio works best for each given end use, and have the entire image circle to work with, hence never lose any pixels or any part of the scene that matters.

If the lens is casting a round image, then why do all cameras cut off the edges of the circle and force it into a square or rectangle that is smaller than the image that the lens provided? Other than a cost-cutting measure, it makes no sense, especially to someone such as myself who is more concerned about getting the "ultimate" and shuns going for the "practical".

Nando Harmsen's picture

I once read an article that was promoting circular sensors. Don't forget, it will make the camera body a lot taller. Unless we use the 1 inch sensor for our full frame models.
Hahaha

Tom Reichner's picture

A wee bit larger camera body would be no problem with me. I actually find the new mirrorless models to be too small to use comfortable (except Canon's R3).

Why pay all of the dollars and carry all of the weight for lenses that produce an image circle that is 40mm in diameter, and then pair those lenses with camera bodies that cut the image down to 35mm by 24mm? The real cost and the real size and weight are in the lenses that we use - especially for folks like myself who use 400 and 500 and 800mm lenses. Why carry all of those pounds around only to have the image produced by those huge glass elements cut down to 60% of its size? Doesn't make any sense to me.

People who use tiny little lenses that only weigh a few pounds and only cost 1 or 2 thousand dollars may feel differently. But for those of us using enormous supertelephotos which weight more than 10 pounds and cost many thousands of dollars, having a camera that crops the image down to a smaller size is just inane.

Nando Harmsen's picture

It all has to do with physics, of course. I've been working in the silicon world previously, and I can tell it's nearly impossible to make round sensors without wasting a lot of material. If it would be possible, the costs of a sensor would be a lot more. We already find the new cameras expensive, imagine what would happen if it would be even more expensive.
Same is for lenses. It's cheaper to use a circulair lens instead of cutting it for a rectangle image projection, if that is even possible.

Tamas Nemeth's picture

"A wee bit larger camera body would be no problem with me. " How about multiplication of the price of the sensor? To achieve this "round" sensor one need to cut up the waffle in such loose way that instead of a 35x24mm rectangle one need to cut out a much larger 43mmx43mm square sensor (maybe a bit less, with retooling), and that would be a substantial bump in the price tag. Suddenly your 800mm lens would not be the priciest item in your bag. :)

Tom Reichner's picture

Yes! You totally get it!

A sensor large enough to cover the entire image circle would have a huge impact on my results. Hence, I would be quite happy to spend about $1,000 more for such a camera.

As far as cost goes, I think my 800mm lens would still be the priciest item in my bag, by a long shot. Canon offers a full frame camera for $1,000 - the RP. How much of the $1000 retail price do you think is the sensor itself? $500? $400? $300? So if they made a sensor that was double (actually, 2.2 times) the size, how much would that really add to the cost of production?

Tamas Nemeth's picture

The problem is the profitability of such system. To have such custom sized larger sensor in a camera would require crazy tooling expenses which has to be split up between the potential production unit count to make sense for such investment. It would be way more than a few hundred dollars. Probably it wouldn't be a full frame medium format price range, but would be beyond that 1x.000 USD your 800mm lens cost as new.
The only reason that my 600mm f/4 is the priciest item in my camera bag when I have it in my camera bag, is that I don't mix wildlife and landscape outings. Else the Phase One digital back would dwarf it. And it's 53.4x40mm sensor size is not much larger than the 43x43 (or 43 diameter circle) would be. ;)

Tamas Nemeth's picture

Quote from a Canon white paper from long time ago - but the principle still valid:

"Thin disks of silicon called “wafers” are used as the raw material of semiconductor manufacturing. Depending upon its composition, (for example, high-resistivity silicon wafers have much greater electrical field depth -- and broader spectral response -- than low-resistivity wafers) an 8" diameter wafer could cost as much as $450 to $500, $1,000 or even $5,000. After several hundred process steps, perhaps between 400 and 600 (including, for example, thin film deposition, lithography, photoresist coating and alignment, exposure, developing, etching and cleaning), one has a wafer covered with sensors. If the sensors are APS-C size, there are about 200 of them on the wafer, depending on layout and the design of the periphery of each sensor. For APS-H, there are about 46 or so. Full-frame sensors? Just 20."

And of course that doesn't incorporate the yield question. If a wafer has x defective areas, that means - x defective sensor. No matter if it was deducted from the 20 potential full frame sensors, or the single digit larger sensors.

More comments